When the decision ball keeps rolling: An investigation of the Sisyphus effect among maximizing consumers

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Marketing Letters, 2011, 22 (3), pp. 283 - 296
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Maximizing and satisficing consumers are distinguished by the quest for perfection (the former) versus the acceptance of good-enough options (the latter). The emerging literature in this field leans toward a view of maximizers as consumers who take into account as much information as possible in order to achieve the best purchase outcome. Our article explores the paradoxical phenomenon that maximizers minimize the value of information resulting from their past experiences; i. e., their previous purchase decisions. As a modern Sisyphus rolling his boulder back up the hill after every decision, a maximizer starts anew for each decision that is undertaken even if a similar process has been undertaken in the past; the very quest for perfection makes a maximizer minimize the value of past decisions. Furthermore, the generalizability of this finding is examined for different levels of purchase involvement. Results from two studies, including a probabilistic sample drawn from the general US population, show that past retail store performance becomes a weaker predictor of repurchase intention as maximization tendencies increase among consumers. In the same vein, regret has less negative impact on maximizers' behavioral intention than on satisficers'. In addition, when involvement increases through price, satisficers start to behave like maximizers as past service experiences becomes less strongly related to their intention. The support found for the Sisyphus Effect is discussed in light of the current theorization of Schwartz and colleagues regarding maximizing consumers. Finally, suggestions for further research are developed. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
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